How I Got the Shot: Loon in a Sun-shower

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Loon in a Sunshower, Rollins Pond

Exposure Data:
4 exposures: each 1/80 second, f/16, ISO 200 
Nikon D300, Nikkor 24-70mm lens set at 60mm.
This panorama of a solitary loon on Rollins Pond was captured at sunset during a clearing rainstorm. It was still raining hard and the patter of raindrops and gusting wind made textured patterns on the water’s surface. In the sky at left you can see rivulets of rain pouring off the umbrella under which I worked.  

The image is a composite of four exposures. I wanted the loon and the sun in the composition, as there was a dynamic interplay between them, but not the wide expanse of water and sky above and below them. This meant shooting it as a panorama. The long lines of pines complemented a wide view. I purposefully included the overhanging leaves to frame the distant elements and add another visual layer to those of water, woods and sky. I could have encompassed the entire scene in one shot with an ultra-wide-angle lens, but the loon and the distant trees would have diminished in stature. Instead, I used a medium-range lens and shot four overlapping images, panning the camera from left to right. Shooting at a relatively fast 1/80 second froze the motion of the loon and raindrops, and using a small aperture ensured good depth of field so that everything from the leaves to the distant clouds was in focus.

I originally shot the scene in color, but the colors were rather demure and didn’t lend much impact to the image. So, using nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro, I converted it to black and white and added a sepia tone and framing. It lent the image the moodiness I felt while standing there. Forlorn, lonely, subject to the elemental forces of wind and water, the image also conveys the serenity I imagined the loon was experiencing.

Mark Bowie is a staff instructor with the Adirondack Photography Institute. He and fellow instructor, Joe LeFevre, will lead the Institute’s Waterfalls and Gorges of Western NY workshop June 5th-8th. Visit for information and for the Institute’s full schedule of events. For more on Mark’s work, visit his website: